February 12, 2017

Does Laughing Gas Work For Managing Labor Pain?

Nitrous Oxide, better known as laughing gas, is quickly gaining interest in the United States as an option for expectant mothers to manage labor pains [1]. A recent study discovered that the use of nitrous oxide is not a very beneficial pain reliever when giving birth.

Although this innovative method may serve as an interesting and somewhat helpful method to manage labor pain, an epidural remains the most effective method. A study by Dr. Caitlin Sutton, an obstetric anesthesiology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, points out that while nitrous oxide is gaining popularity, the majority of patients ended up requesting an epidural as well.

Furthermore, the research justified its claim by reviewing the medical records of 4700 women who delivered vaginally and only 148 of those women used nitrous oxide as their method of a pain reliever. On average, there was no change in the pain scale (0-10) before and after nitrous oxide. However, there is some promise in using nitrous oxide and more research will have to be performed to determine which women would benefit most from using laughing gas during labor.

[1] “‘Laughing Gas’ May not Ease Pain during Childbirth” Preidt, Robert. WebMd. Retrieved From: http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20161024/laughing-gas-may-not-ease-pain-during-childbirth-study

January 18, 2017

There Could Be A Definite Way To Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition in which many important mental functions are inhibited. With the onset of Alzheimer’s, a patient may experience mild confusion and memory loss. However when the condition becomes more severe, patients may suffer dramatic personality changes and severe memory loss. This disease is categorized as a type of dementia, which is a common term used to describe brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s accounts for about 60-80% of the cases of dementia; making Alzheimer’s the most common form of dementia [1].

In order to get a better understanding of the disease, researchers have observed how genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors affect the brain. They believe that a combination of these factors have an effect on the brain, which further leads to development of the disease [2]. However in fewer than 5 percent of the cases, Alzheimer’s is caused by a genetic change which almost guarantees that a patient will develop this disease. In order to achieve a better understanding this concept, researchers at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) attempt to understand the alterations that occur in early stages of the disease. One factor they examined is the alterations on bones, in attempt to offer biomarkers for earlier detection that does not involve examining the brain [3].

By definition, a biomarker can be defined as the presence of a substance which indicates the presence of a disease [4]. In this case, the researchers at NEOMED use the mouse model of Alzheimer’s to link between early bone loss and brain degeneration. Their aim was to move a step closer to determining biomarkers such as bone density loss, which could help in early identification of the development of Alzheimer’s.

In the mouse model, the researchers from NEOMED measured the bone density in htau mice before they developed significant signs of abnormality. They found that bone density was significantly reduced when the mice developed this disease. With a further analysis of the effects on the brains of the mice, researchers were able to conclude that there is a “significant link between early bone loss and brain degeneration” [3].

In lieu of this finding, researchers suggest that more research needs to be conducted to identify the same molecular mechanisms in humans. If these studies yield conclusive results, researchers will be able to act on developing the logistics for using bone density as a biomarker for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources:

[1] What is Alzheimer’s? Alzhiemer’s Association. Retrieved from: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

[2] Alzheimer’s Disease. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/home/ovc-20167098

[3] Bone Loss May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Paddock, Catherine. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314492.php

[4] What are Biomarkers? Strimbu, Kyle and Tavel, Jorge. US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078627/

January 4, 2017

How Junk Food Marketing Leads to Unhealthy Diets

Selective focus on the right cheeseburger

In the 21st century, technology has become an unavoidable part of children’s lives. From educational tools, to watching videos and playing games, children are surrounded by screens of all sorts and sizes. These devices are a perfect media outlet for companies to advertise a number of products to children including snacks, toys and apparel to children.

As a part of this impactful demographic, children have influence over how their parents spend.  Much of these expenses are processed junk foods that children ask their parents to buy each time they visit the grocery store.  These foods are intentionally placed near the checkout tills and within a child’s reach; this forces situations where a child is easily able to access them and ask their parents for that particular treat. Furthermore, the effect of these foods on their health is monumental. An article by Time Magazine quoted UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Oliver De Schutter, stating that “unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco” [1].

This may be due to the fact that junk foods are highly processed and contain large amounts of carbohydrates, unnecessary sugar, unhealthy fats, and extra sodium. Consuming ingredients with little nutritional value has a negative impact on your body. In addition, many of these junk foods are very addictive and tempt a person to keep consuming them. It is important that people control these temptations and are selective in choosing the foods they intend to consume. Unhealthy diets have a direct link with the function of many major body systems such as the cardiovascular and digestive systems.

[1] U.N Official Says Junk Food Just as Bad as Cigarettes. Alter, Charlotte. Time Magazine. Retrieved From: http://time.com/104999/u-n-official-says-junk-food-just-as-bad-as-cigarettes/

 

December 21, 2016

Drug Company’s CEO Salary Rises 6 Times as Prices Increase

ceo salary rise drug price affordableEpiPen is known to be vitally important to people who have extreme allergies and those at risk of anaphylaxis. The EpiPen was taken over by the pharmaceutical company, Mylan, in 2007 and has been increasing their prices drastically over the last eight years. The $100 for a pair of EpiPens in 2007, is now being sold for a little over $600!

There have been many executives who have benefited from this ordeal but Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Heather Bresch, has seen her compensation increase over 600% over the past eight years. While numerous patients and families have struggled to afford the drastically increasing expense of EpiPens, CEO Heather Bresch has enjoyed a “total compensation of $18,931,068” [1]. Although there has been no open investigation of Mylan’s pricing structures, it has received public scrutiny from numerous politicians.

When the company first acquired the rights to the EpiPen, it was considered a failing enterprise. Having developed the product to a satisfactory level the company subsequently began increasing its price. This was seen as a fair business move, but hiking up the prices to such an outrageous number is unfair to numerous families who struggle to afford a crucial medication to treat a common and easily controlled condition.

Furthermore, Mylan has also purchased a drug company in the Netherlands for the sole purpose of paying lower taxes. Mylan was further criticized  for its profit-seeking actions in an article by Michael Hiltzik. Hiltzik pointed out that Mylan is unpatriotic and an “inversion”, which is defined as a “U.S. company cuts its tax bill by acquiring a foreign firm and moving its tax domicile to the acquired company’s homeland” [2]

The EpiPen is not merely an allergy medication that avoids minor symptoms, yet it is an auto-injector which is used in life or death situations. This is why numerous patients find the price increases outrageous, because such a crucial piece of equipment should not be made so unaffordable.

[1] CEO of EpiPen Maker Mylan Sees 671% Compensation Increase in 8 Years. Willingham, Emily. Forbes. Retrieved From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2016/08/23/ceo-of-mylan-pharmaceuticals-sees-671-salary-increase-in-8-years/#e1eb0b44b236

[2] Another reason to hate Mylan, which jacked up the price of life-saving EpiPens: It’s a tax dodger. Hiltzik, Michael. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved From: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-mylan-inversion-20160823-snap-story.html

November 1, 2016

How Depression Medication Affects Your Body

Filed under: Depression,health,stress — Tags: , , , , , — drwatson @ 11:24 pm

Depression treatment and symptomsNeurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that affect mood and emotions. If you suffer from depression, antidepressant pills are a common treatment option. These anti-depressants help with improving mood, sleeping better and increasing appetite. Improving these areas of a person’s life are all are helpful when coping with depression and to help construct a more positive outlook for the patient. It is important that patients are aware of the emotions and feelings they will exhibit when they are going through their depression treatment.

For each person who takes depression medication, the effects may take different amounts of time to manifest. It normally takes a minimum of three to four weeks before a person taking depression medication starts to notice a change in their mood [1].

Antidepressants, like many other medications, have noticeable side effects. These include headaches, drowsiness, weight gain and agitation. With a variety of antidepressants that can be prescribed, side effects will vary greatly and some side effects may be more common in some types of medication. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibiters (SSRIs) tend to have fewer side effects. It is important to seek a medical professional is sought before finding an appropriate anti-depressant.

Lastly, the length of these side effects vary from person to person.  In many cases, these effects only last for a few days whereas in others it may take up to a number of weeks. The effects of a certain medication is variable, each person will react differently to a medication and it is important to keep consulting a medical professional to see if an antidepressant is appropriate for a person’s condition. Sometimes the time of day or type of medication may not be suited to a patient and a doctor can help with that diagnosis.

[1] How Your Depression Medication Can Affect Your Life? Greenlaw, Ellen. WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/antidepressant-effects#1

October 18, 2016

Copper Is The Simple Solution To Hospital Infections

Copper Sink Hospital Health Bacteria InfectionHospitals are a center for bacterial infections; people sometimes leave with a bacterial infection that they did not have before entering the hospital. The 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study stated that the medical harm caused in the United States led to over 40,000 harmful errors each day, causing hundreds of millions in damages [1]. It is essential that there are efforts made in order to reduce this number. Some of this can be rectified by maintaining higher levels of cleanliness in a hospital, but there is always human error. Recent studies based on common knowledge has yielded a unique new approach.

In an article by the New York Times, a new study performed by the American Journal of Infection Control was reviewed. It determined that “installing copper equipment in hospital rooms may be a good way to reduce infections” [2]. Historically, copper has been used to sanitize water and clean wounds. Researchers arrived at a more scientific conclusion by comparing the abundance of bacteria on commonly touched equipment made of copper and commonly touched equipment made of more common materials (metal, porcelain, plastic, etc.). After contamination researchers took swabs of this equipment (toilet flush levers, door handles, light switches, etc.) and tried growing the bacteria in the lab.

The results indicated that the copper fixtures had as much as 98% less bacteria on them, and on half of the swabs taken from the copper fixtures did not grow any additional bacteria.

Although hospital staff have certain procedures for cleansing and sanitizing their environments these new ideas can have a positive effect on improving hospital conditions. Copper fixtures are not yet common in hospital environments but may have a great effect in minimizing bacteria.

[1]Health Grades 2011 Healthcare consumerism and Hospital Quality in America Report. Health Grades. Retrieved from: http://hg-article-center.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/7b/de/dc25d2c94d25ad88c9e1688c9adc/HealthcareConsumerismHospitalQualityReport2011.pdf

[2] Copper Sinks and Faucets May Stem Hospital Infections. Bakalar, Nicholas.  New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/well/copper-sinks-and-faucets-may-stem-hospital-infections.html?ribbon-ad-idx=5&rref=health&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Health&pgtype=article

October 4, 2016

4 Ways Prescription and Over the Counter Drugs Differ

Drugs can usually be categorized into prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs. These two categories have many significant differences. Here are four aspects in which they differ:

Prescriptions are not needed for OTC drugs.

OTC Drugs can be purchased without a prescription or a doctor’s referral.  The assumption is that the patient is able to recognize their symptoms and find an appropriate OTC drug to reduce them. Prescription drugs however require a doctor’s prescription. This is due to the fact that the patient needs to see the doctor before he can recommend a stronger or more specific drug to cure their condition.

The sale of prescription drugs is limited compared to OTC drugs.

Prescription drugs can only be dispensed by pharmacies. A mandatory prescription is needed for these drugs and can only be sold once prescription is verified. However, OTC drugs are readily available at pharmacies and grocery stores straight off the shelf.  They are also available at pharmacies but are not limited to them.

Consumption and usage of OTC and prescription drugs is distinct.

When purchasing a prescription drug you are provided with a specific label which guides you on what dose to take. These instructions are highly specific and are recommended by your doctor. You may also receive additional advice from the pharmacist on how to take the drug.  OTC drugs use different reference points, such as weight, height, age, on how to determine what dose is appropriate for each patient.

Use of OTC drugs requires self-diagnosis.

Patients make the decision of which drugs they need to take when purchasing OTC drugs whereas doctors determine which drugs a patient should take when purchasing prescription drugs. However, if the symptoms are uncommon, or are not alleviated by the OTC drug, it is advisable that they consult a doctor so they can prescribe the appropriate medication.

 

 

September 6, 2016

What You Need To Know About Your Prescription Medication

team of pharmacist chemist woman group standing in pharmacy drugstore

Make sure to double-check that you are leaving a pharmacy with the right medication.

There are certain measures in place that protects a patient’s health and safety before receiving a prescription medication. Since prescription medications are stronger than medications sold over the counter, the purchasing process is highly regulated. In order to ensure a safe experience, it is important that a patient takes their own precautions as well.

The prescription process begins with your family physician writing a prescription with detailed instructions on how to take the medication. Next, your pharmacist receives this information and double checks to ensure that the information filled out in the prescription is accurate and safe for the patient to take.

When dealing with prescriptions, there are certain things about the ordering process that would be beneficial for patients to know. For instance, reading hand-written prescriptions can be a challenge for pharmacists and has resulted over 7000 deaths related to reading-related mistakes [1]. So, it is vital that you and your pharmacist double check that you are receiving the correct type and dosage of medication.

Children are another safety risk that parents must give special attention towards. Child-resistant lids for medication bottles are the ideal preventative measure, reducing the danger when a child has a bottle of medication in their hand.

It is also important to be well-informed in regards to the kind of medication you are taking. There has been a noticeable decrease of risk perception on the danger of prescription drugs by 20% over the last 20 years, which is a dangerous proposition [2]. There are numerous cases of preventable medication errors each year that causes harm to patients. Knowing the exact instructions and the dangers of accidental overdose is crucial to preventing these accidents.

 

[1] Caplan, Jeremy. Time. Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1578074,00.html

[2] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm220112.htm

August 23, 2016

How To Prevent Risk Factors That Causes Strokes

Filed under: health,life expectancy,stroke — Tags: , , , , , — drwatson @ 8:39 pm

StrokeThere are specific risk factors that increase the chances of a patient having a stroke. Risk factors having to do with age, gender, and ethnicity are not controllable and inevitably increase the chances of a person having a stroke. Whereas eating habits, physical activity, smoking and drinking are all examples of lifestyle choices that can be altered to better prevent strokes.

According to a recent study, it was “confirmed [that] there were at least 10 modifiable risk factors associated with 90% of stroke cases in all regions, young and older and in men and women.” [1] These modifications included important factors such as daily physical activity, diets, eliminating smoking, eliminating cardiac causes, improving Apoliprotein levels, reducing alcohol consumption, eliminating diabetes and reducing stress.

The majority of these factors are interrelated and are examples of how one modification in your lifestyle can help to better prevent strokes. Furthermore the study indicated that when these risk factors were combined it “brought a 91% reduction in stroke, similar in all regions, age groups and independent of sex.” [2]

[1] Global study finds risk factors for stroke have regional variation. Retrieved from: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/global-study-finds-risk-factors-for-stroke-have-regional-variation/

[2] Meszaros, Liz. Same 10 modifiable risk factors for stroke span the globe, but with regional variations. Retrieved from: http://www.mdlinx.com/neurology/article/519

July 19, 2016

Pharmaceutical Companies Manipulate Prices to Maximize Profits

graph-and-dollar-sign-as-shadow_M1DL4crO-compressorIt is a common practice in a business to think about maximizing profits. But when pharmaceutical companies like Valeant Pharmaceuticals are seen hiking their drug prices up to 6000% it raises a red flag on many ethical levels.  This activity is not new in the pharmaceutical industry.

Valeant is not the only company which increases their prices significantly; it is common for many large pharmaceutical companies to increase prices, as there are no legal ramifications to their actions. Recently, Valeant was placed in the spotlight because they were increasing the prices for many critical medications such as Nitropress, Isurpel, Syprine, and Cupermine. Furthermore, these medications were not innovative or new; this causes consumer outrage because the ridiculous price increases cannot be justified.

Therefore, the occurrence of cases like Valeant is indicative of manipulative strategies to earn the most out of vulnerable consumers. Find out more on the dialogue between Valeant and the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging and how they explained the price hikes on drug prices.

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